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Saving my XFX6950s after flashing BIOS to 6970 Failed

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 27, 2012 10:37:57 PM

I hope this helps and that this is the right place to post this. It is not as much a question, as it is another solution because the one that was in the post below did not work for my hardware. I just hope to help someone else save their XFX 6950 cards from being useless. Zack of Steel started the post where the quote below came from. His post was marked as solved so I could not post a reply stating that the solution did not work for me and I had to use a different method. I feel it is important to provide this as another method to use if you cannot use the one linked below.

zack_of_steel said:
Yeah, I just read that about the reference cards. I had read quite a bit of information about flashing it and hadn't seen any mention about there being a difference. =/


I found a post by a guy with the exact same model that I have that got his to work, so I'm about to try it:

http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showpost.php?p=224077...




First, let me say that I wish I had ran across this post about the XFX6950 Reference Cards not capable of being flashed BEFORE I flashed mine. And yes, I read through probably 50 pages on the forums about the upgrade process. Unfortunately, this one I found by typing in it failed. Maybe next time I will start with the failed search and not wait until after I mess up the cards. ha..ha..ha...

I went to the link that was posted: http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/sh...postcount=2162 for a possible solution and saving my cards from becoming bricks.

The BIOS flash to the 6970 I downloaded from techpowerup was successful according to the confirmations I received on the screen. But after restarting my computer, it would not boot. As soon as the computer tried to boot, the screen would stay black and one of the fans in my system would kick into high where the sound was extremely loud. I could not even get to the bios initiation stage so I could enter the BIOS.

Thankfully, I had an old GeForce 295 laying around that I was able to insert into my computer so that I could at least boot back into Windows. I removed the 2 ATI cards and almost threw them away since I had no idea how I was going to flash the original BIOS on them again. They are 1G cards and I paid about 260 a piece for them 6 to 9 months ago.

Then I ran across this thread after searching Google for any possible hope of flashing them with the original bin file. "Yes, I was smart enough to backup my original bin file and while I am not an expert at this, I am by no means a noob."

The method I used to flash them originally was the ATI_WINFLASH program using the command prompt within windows. There was another method that I read could be used that required you to create a USB Boot Disk and then use ATIFLASH instead of ATI_WINFLASH. I chose the ATI_WINFLASH since it could be done through the cmd command in windows.

After reading the link that was provided above, I installed one of the dead XFX cards in the PCIe slot 2 on my motherboard. I connected one monitor to each card and connected the power as well. When windows first came up, I quickly went to device manager, display properties and tried to disable the ATI card. The first time I tried this, the option to disable was not available and the software installed. The screen went black and one of the fans kicked into high gear again. I removed the power from the ATI card and rebooted the system. When Windows came up, all I saw were 2 NVIDIA 295 cards. I then shut down the system, plugged the power cables back into the ATI card, and was then able to enter the Device Manager and disable the ATI card that was listed. I do not know why I could not do it the first time, but I was able to do it the second time.

At this point, I tried to use ATIWINFLASH to flash the original BIOS, but it failed because it said the bios was not accessable. I guess since the card was disabled in the Device Manager, the BIOS could not be read or flashed.

So I got to thinking that since the two cards will boot up together, but if both are enabled in Windows, it crashes, then I could probably use the original forum posting from http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=335318 to flash the BIOS and save my cards. The steps below worked and I now have both cards reverted back to the original BIOS and there does not seem to be any lingering issues from the mishap.

Here were my setps:

1. Installed GeForce 295 in the top GPU slot.
2. Installed XFX 6950 in the bottom GPU slot. This card has the 6970 bios flashed.
3. I had my USB Boot Disk and on that disk I had 2 files. Atiflash and my original bios. In Windows, I named the original bios file: ati.orig.bin. *Note below that this filename changed after I booted up using the usb boot disk.
4. After pressing F8 repeatedly, the boot selection options came up. I selected my USB drive and was presented with the C:\ prompt.
5. Since I had 2 cards installed and powered, the GEFORCE and the ATI, I wanted to make sure I did not flash my NVIDIA card with the ATI BIOS so I had to know which card to flash. The last thing I needed was to flash over the GEFORCE card.
6. I typed: "atiflash -i" (without the quotations) This displayed only the ATI card and that it was in the 0 slot. I figured since the NVIDIA card did not show up, that as long as I only flashed 0, I would be ok.
7. With this information, I then typed the following at the command prompt: "atiflash -unlockrom 0"
8. The system confirmed the unlock.
9. The next step was to type in the following at the command prompt: "atiflash -f -p 0 (name of your .bin or .rom file)" I named my original BIOS file "ati.orig.bin." But when I typed "atiflash -f -p 0 ati.orig.bin", it told me that there was no file with that name on the disk. So I typed in "dir" at the command prompt (C:\dir) to list the directory of the folder. The file name had been changed from "ati.orig.bin" to "ati.ori~1.bin". The G had been replaced with ~1. *Note that in Number 3 above, I stated that I name the file ati.orig.bin. As soon as I booted into Windows after flashing both ATI cards, I examined the file on the USB boot disk and it indeed was ati.orig.bin, not ati.ori~1.bin.
10. So this time, I typed: "atiflash -f -p 0 ati.ori~1.bin". The flash was successful.
11. I turned off the computer using the power button. Disconnected the power from the GeForce card, and rebooted with only the ATI card I had just flashed with the original BIOS. My system booted into windows and was stable.
12. Now it was time to flash the second card. Since I did not want to jinx anything, I kept shut down the computer, plugged the power back into the GeForce card, removed the now working ATI card and put the second broken ATI Card in its place in PCIe slot 2. I then turned the computer on, continuously pressed F8 until the boot window came up, and then repeated steps 6, 7, and 10. The flash was successful.

I turned the power off using the power button on the front. Removed the GeForce Card and replaced it with the ATI card I had flashed first. I attached the 2 crossfire cables and rebooted. The system booted into windows and I used Driver Sweeper to clean out all the old Nvidia and ATI drivers. I rebooted and installed my ATI drivers.

I was fortunate enough to not give up and found this post. It kept me from using my cards as door stops or paper weights. I have them running in CrossfireX again and everything is running the way they ran previously.

All of this was not a total loss though. In my searching for a cure, I did find a way to unlock all the shaders on my card to the amount that are on the 6970.

I have not figured out how to put a photo into the txt box and I do not have an online location to store them so I cannot put a link to them either. But using ATIRBE_128 from Techpowerup website, I was able to successfully take my Shaders from 1408 Unified to 1536 Unified. Of course, my next step is to figure out exactly what those extra 128 shaders do for my card and my games. This was done by making a copy of my original BIOS, importing it into the program, and on the last tab, there is an option to select Shaders for 6950 or 6970. I selected the 6970 and then saved the BIOS. I then used the ATI_WINFLASH method to flash both cards. I restarted the computer and when windows came back up, the Shaders count was 1536 Unified.

If anyone figures out how to upgrade these XFX 6950 cards, I would be very interested. I stripped one of the cards down and there is no BIOS Switch anywhere that I could find. I am not good with soldering so that will be out of the question also. I did not have to make any hardware changes to get the increased shader count.

This is my first post and my first attempt at flashing my video bios so please be kind. I hope to contribute more in the future and hopefully I can learn the tricks to formatting things in here to make them a lot easier to read.
a b U Graphics card
February 27, 2012 11:30:06 PM

You have great problem-solving skills and you did enough research to save your cards! Congratulations!
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February 27, 2012 11:51:36 PM

Thank you. I learned another valuable lesson though. Make sure before doing any major step that could lead to a catastrophic loss, research how to recover failed attempts. I would have found this post if I had.

I am just so glad I was able to recover the cards and I hope that I can save someone else from making the big mistake since there still seems to be a lot of people trying to OC these cards.
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